The script was strikingly similar.
Carrying a 4-2 lead after two periods for the second straight night, Penn State once again allowed four goals in the third period as Michigan clawed its way back into the game.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, Saturday’s contest featured a happier — though more nerve-wracking — ending.
The Nittany Lions netted a pair of their own in the third period as the Wolverines scored twice with under four minutes to play as they forced overtime. Just six seconds into the extra frame, Sam Sternschein potted the game-winning goal as the Nittany Lions topped the Wolverines in a wild, 7-6 affair.
The play that led to the winning goal was simple. Nikita Pavlychev won the opening faceoff of overtime forward and charged toward the Wolverine net. His initial shot was stopped by Strauss Mann, with the rebound falling back to Pavlychev’s stick.
Pavlychev tapped a pass to Sternschein, who roofed a shot to give the Nittany Lions the win. While Sternschein didn’t know what Pavlychev had in mind before the puck dropped, following Pavlychev to the net turned out to be the right move.
“I saw Pav going. I went to the net as he was going forward, and it worked out,” Sternschein said.
While Sternschein served as the final hero for the Nittany Lions, it was Evan Barratt who once again got the ball rolling en route to the victory.
Midway through the second period, the game was at risk of slipping out of the Nittany Lions hands. After some questionable officiating, the crowd had grown frustrated and the Wolverines had begun to take over the contest, which was deadlocked at two.
Much like they’ve done in the past, though, the Nittany Lions turned to Barratt, and the sophomore forward answered the bell.
Barratt netted a pair of goals in the second period, capping off a hat trick after he opened the scoring just 1:20 into the game.
“His performance was not only impressive, I think it was very timely,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “Those were very timely goals for us to stay in it.”
Looking to rebound from Friday’s third period collapse, the Nittany Lions scored a couple of timely goals early in the first to take a 2-0 lead on their first two shots of the game. While the goals certainly gave the Nittany Lions a boost, it also motivated Mann.
“He was just locked in right after that,” Gadowsky said of the Wolverines’ goalie. “Give him a lot of credit because I thought we could have taken over the game, but he was awesome.”
It seems peculiar to praise goaltending in a game that features 13 goals, but neither Mann nor Nittany Lions’ keeper Peyton Jones had an off night, save for the opening moments for Mann.
The Wolverines benefited from fortunate bounces, as their second goal of the night bouned off the stick of Paul DeNaples and floated over Jones blocker. Their tying goal with just over a minute to play ricocheted off Kris Myllari and into the net.
The stat line of six goals against on 34 shots may not accurately depict Jones’ performance, just as the seven goals Mann allowed on 40 shots doesn’t summarize his.
“I really want to look before I paint everything with one brush,” Gadowsky said. “You make your breaks a little bit, but they certainly had a couple that you can’t blame on Peyton.”
How It Happened
After penalty trouble doomed the Nittany Lions on Friday, an early power play came to their advantage Saturday night. Just 38 seconds into the game, Quinn Hughes was called for slashing the stick out of Evan Barratt’s hands. On the ensuing power play, Liam Folkes stormed into the Wolverines’ zone and sent a backhand pass to Barratt, who buried a wrist shot past Strauss Mann.
Exactly two minutes later, Aarne Talvitie doubled Penn State’s lead. After receiving a breakout pass from Sam Sternschein, Talvitie cruised into the attacking zone and fired a shot from the left circle. Mann seemed fooled by the wrister as the puck sailed over his glove, off the post and in.
Midway through the period, the Wolverines cut the lead in half. Nick Pastujov jumped on a loose puck in front of Peyton Jones and lifted a shot into the top corner.
With just over four minutes remaining in the period, the Wolverines knotted the game at two. Will Lockwood fired a cross-ice pass that was deflected by Paul DeNaples. The puck took an unfortunate bounce and fluttered over Peyton Jones blocker.
Midway through the second period, the Nittany Lions took advantage of some open ice in a 4-on-4 situation. Biro gathered in a pass near the blue line and fed a streaking Barratt. The sophomore forward fired a shot far side that snuck inside the far post for his second of the night.
Just four minutes later, Barratt completed his hat trick on a nifty passing play. Barratt found open ice right in front of Mann and received a pass from Alex Limoges. Barratt patiently moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand and tucked a shot between the legs of Mann to restore Penn State’s two-goal lead.
Early in the third period, the Wolverines got one back as Dakota Raabe finished off a pretty passing play with a one timer past Jones.
Three minutes later, Nate Sucese restored Penn State’s two-goal lead once again, dancing around a Wolverine defenseman and lifting a backhand shot over Mann’s pad.
Like clockwork, the Wolverines responded once again just three minutes later. Nick Pastujov deflected a point shot that bounced past Peyton Jones as the Nittany Lion keeper was heading in the opposite direction.
The Nittany Lions’ two-goal lead was restored once again a few minutes later, as Brandon Biro one timed a shot that found a hole in Mann and trickled into the goal.
Four and half minutes later, the Wolverines once again closed to within a goal as Garrett Van Wyhe jumped on a loose puck and beat Jones blocker side.
With under two minutes to play, the Wolverines pulled Mann for an extra skater. A few moments later, it paid off, as Will Lockwood banked a shot off Kris Myllari and into the net, tying the game at six and forcing overtime.
After winning the opening faceoff in the extra period, Nikita Pavlychev charged in on net and had his shot stopped by Mann. The rebound bounced back to Pavlychev, who tapped the puck to Sam Sternschein. The sophomore forward lifted a shot over the glove of Mann to give the Nittany Lions the victory.